19th March 2004 at 00:00
RE teachers in any key stage have the aim of elimination of stereotyping, from which religions have suffered much. Material about the Roma could be used in any unit of work addressing prejudice and stereotyping. The RE teacher's scrap box of useful press cuttings - a good source for wall display and pupil work - should acquire anti-Roma material, including evidence of attacks, and "romantic" material (eg Gypsy caravan pictures from holiday brochures). Children can analyse these stereotypes (smiling Gypsy in a brightly painted caravan, and the vilification or physical attacks, often in darkness). "Not pictures but people" is a good caption.

With older pupils, discuss Roma beliefs and values, together with the implications for Jews and Christians of their belief that humankind is made in the image of God (Genesis 1.26); for Muslims, Allah breathed his spirit into humankind (Qur'an, Sura 15.29). These sorts of beliefs give religions an anti-persecution agenda, not for reasons of social ordering but by divine order. Older pupils could consider what this agenda might mean in practice.

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